Uncertainty for corn fans as sweet corn wilts in summer heat, according to research

Report: Sweet corn yields drop sharply as temperatures rise during flowering . Temperatures in rainfed fields in the Midwest could affect yield in the future .

Washington, D.C., November 24 : Summer in America is nothing more than buttery corn on the cob, but the future of sweet corn could be bleak as summer temperatures climb to new heights.Sweet corn yields drop sharply as temperatures rise during flowering, according to a new University of Illinois report, particularly in rainfed fields in the Midwest.Climate projections do not just assume a handful of hot days.According to the US Global Change Study Program, 20 to 30 more days will be needed by the middle of the century in many areas.It is expected that sweet corn, one of the most popular vegetable crops in the country, will be difficult in the future.

Williams found that small temperature variations have a larger effect on crop yield than small precipitation variations for both rainfed and irrigated fields in the Midwest and Northwest, and that extreme temperatures during flowering can affect pollen fertility, fertilization, kernel abortion, and other processes.Thats particularly true in a world where ear quality is so vital.Williams claims that with heat stress during flowering, ears with less kernels or very misshapen kernels will produce ears that look nothing like what the consumer wants.To analyze the effect of temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius 86 F on sweet corn yield, this study used the term extreme degree days.

Dhaliwal summed degree days over 30 degrees Celsius to calculate extreme degree days.For rainfed regions, every extreme degree day during flowering resulted in an additional yield decrease of 2%.Yield losses were less severe in irrigated systems, 0.15% per degree day over 30 degrees, but more than one day at 40 degrees 104 F could lower yield by 20%.This finding was based on season-long hourly temperature data, not degree days.

If sweet corn yield and quality declines as a result of climate extremes, planting times or production locations may need to change to avoid the hottest temperatures, according to Williams.In the meantime, what can we do to improve sweet corn's resilience to increasing environmental stresses?These are difficult issues.Williams believes that we were in a moment where we were going to have to deal with what was already going on.

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